Congress Approves 6-Month Transportation Extension

September 20, 2011

Highway Trust Fund Account Balances FY 06-11 (FHWA)

An update on Federal funding for surface transportation and aviation from the American Planning Association:

The Senate approved a clean, six-month extension of surface transportation programs and sent it to the president for his signature late last week. The House approved the legislation earlier in the week.

The extension of SAFETEA-LU was combined with a four-month extension of Federal Aviation Administration programs to allow Congress more time to work out the reauthorization details of both major transportation laws. The measure extends the federal gas tax and authorizes funding for surface transportation programs at FY11 levels through March 31, 2012.

Half of this year’s $41.7 billion will be authorized for the six-month bill, but if budget cuts in the FY12 appropriations bill are approved, transportation funding could still be significantly reduced in the second half of the fiscal year.

The extension measure was briefly held up when Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sought to add language to remove all Transportation Enhancements funding, despite an agreement by leadership to pass a clean extension. This program is the primary source of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects that enable safe access to the transportation system for millions of users. The Transportation Enhancements program represents less than 2 percent of all federal transportation funding. Coburn agreed to remove his hold on the legislation after receiving assurances that he will be allowed to offer the language to the long-term reauthorization measure.

This is the eighth extension of SAFETEA-LU since it first expired in September 2009. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) has said that it is also the last one that he will support. Lawmakers now have six months to negotiate the details of a reauthorization bill.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.) said that her committee’s two-year proposal is almost ready for its mark-up, and that a deal on offsetting the additional $12 billion in spending not supported by the Highway Trust Fund is nearing completion. The costs of the proposal will have to be analyzed before Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) agrees to move forward.

The House proposal sticks with the traditional six-year timeline, but significantly reduces spending to stay within the confines of lagging Highway Trust Fund revenue. Mica has said that 70 percent of his bill has been drafted and he hopes to bring it up for a vote soon.


Notice of intent to Call for Projects: Job Access Reverse Commute and New Freedom Programs

September 16, 2011

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), in partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), is planning to call for projects in the 18-County Atlanta Urbanized Area for Job Access & Reverse Commute (JARC) and New Freedom Program funds for fiscal years 2011. In addition, the ARC will also award funds carried over from FY 2010. These Federal Transit Administration (FTA) program funds are available for projects that improve transportation for low‐income individuals, people with disabilities, and older adults.

The solicitation for projects will be announced during the week of September 19, 2011. Applications will be due by November 04, 2011. Additional information will be available on the ARC website at www.atlantaregional.com/hst. Read the rest of this entry »


Residents Invited to Share Opinions at Transportation Referendum Forums

September 6, 2011

Residents across metro Atlanta are being invited to provide their input on a draft list of transportation investments for the region to be funded by a regional, penny sales tax referendum on the ballot next summer. The Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable will host a series of 12 forums throughout the region in September to garner feedback from the public on the more than $6 billion in transportation investments.

Roundtable members are required by law to finalize the list by October 15 and want as much public input as possible.

“Roundtable members have already heard from more than 200,000 citizens and have worked very hard to develop a list of transportation investments that will give people across metro Atlanta more travel options and reduce congestion,” said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, chairman of the Roundtable. “Now we need to hear from our neighbors one more time and make sure we’re putting a list on the ballot that voters can support.”

In June, the Roundtable hosted 10 telephone townhall meetings in which they reached out to 1.3 million registered voters and spent time on the phone with more than 130,000 of them. These forums are the next step in what has been an open, transparent process.

Forum attendees can view a presentation, speak with transportation experts and can complete a survey. The presentation and survey will also be available online by visiting www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com or by watching your county’s local cable access channel, where available.

For a schedule of the forums, or for more information about the Roundtable and the Transportation Investment Act, visit www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com.